By Matabeleland North Correspondent
VICTORIA FALLS: The Rafting Association of Zimbabwe (RAZ) has located the bodies of two Victoria Falls soccer players who drowned in the Zambezi River last Thursday.
This follows a gruelling three-day search.
A search team comprising police and rafters under command of RAZ had been conducting daily searches for the bodies in the river since Friday.
With police sub-aqua unit from Bulawayo failing to travel to Victoria Falls to join the search, it was left to RAZ’s guides and kayakers to take the responsibility and retrieve the bodies of Thamsanqa Ncube (22) and Elson Mathe (24).
Kayakers found Ncube’s body at Rapid 7B and Mathe’s at Rapid 9 before both were retrieved out of the water late Sunday afternoon.
RAZ and police also mobilised local villagers from Monde village to help carry the bodies to the top of the gorge before they were ferried to Victoria Falls Hospital mortuary where police said they (bodies) will be conveyed to Bulawayo for postmortem.
The bodies had started decomposing when kayakers found them floating downstream from Rapid Number 6 where they allegedly drowned.
Rafting guides sailed down to Rapid Number 11 with the bodies where they were helped by villagers to carry them to the top.
Mathe and Ncube were swimming on Zambezi River at Rapid Number 6 last Thursday when they suddenly drowned after a strong wave hit them while in the water.
Their friends Lucas Sibanda (22) and Brian Dlamini (25) managed to swim to safety and rushed to inform relatives who reported the matter to the police.
Mathe’s relative Claudius Mathe said despite the tragic incident, the family was now relieved that the body had been found.
“It’s been a very tough time having to sleep every day not knowing whether the bodies will be found or not. Culturally, we know you can’t mourn a body you haven’t seen and confirmed that it’s really dead and now that both have been found and retrieved, people can find closure,” he said.
He said mourners had been gathered at both the deceased’s places of residence in Chinotimba’s Railways section.
Meanwhile, police urged members of the public to desist from swimming or playing in water bodies especially the Zambezi River as they risked being swept away and drowning.
A fortnight ago, a man also drowned in the Zambezi River in Makwa area while swimming.
The man was sailing with friends from a fishing expedition when he jumped into the water in an attempt to swim but drowned immediately.